HEMINGWAY AND GELLHORN: Nicole Kidman & clive OwenJune 08, 2012
Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies and shows on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: HEMINGWAY AND GELLHORN (HBO).
HEMINGWAY AND GELLHORN
The Trouble She's Seen
Martha Gellhorn was a talented, fascinating woman, more than worthy of a film treatment. Hemingway, too, although he has already gotten plenty of attention in fact and fiction. Unfortunately, “Hemingway and Gellhorn” does not give either of them their due for their work or their personalities in this 2 ½ hour biopic. Instead, we get pretty people in a variety of would-be exotic locales (that look an awful lot like California), drinking and yelling.
The film opens on Nicole Kidman in amazing old age makeup (would that she would let her face age like that), speaking in a raspy voice about how she never really got into sex and was probably a terrible bed partner to the men in her life. Quite an interesting point of view which is then completely thrown away by the many long scenes of her character having extremely enthusiastic sex with Clive Owen’s animalistic Ernest “Papa” Hemingway. The inconsistencies continue from there, with Kidman’s accent and tone of voice varying from scene to scene (sometimes from shot to shot within scenes).
The flashbacks, which are the bulk of the narrative, show an awkward meet-cute in a bar, where Hemingway appeals to Gellhorn’s culturally-curious intellect by singing to her in Italian. A point of view which again is discounted by her apparent difficulty with language when they get to Spain.
Much time is spent in combat in Spain with Kidman running around looking terrified with no explanation of how she becomes fascinated enough by war to become the finest war correspondent of her time, other than Hemingway telling her to write about her feelings.
The only times Gellhorn is shown having any gumption is when she hears a baby crying. Twice during the film she is shown risking her own safety to save a child. Could gender stereotypes be reinforced a little more???
Hemingway is a man of action.
He drinks, bullies and initiates sex.
Gellhorn is a woman of maternal feeling. She is frightened and repressed until Hemingway seduces her. To be fair, later on in the narrative we see that Hemingway wants her to stay home with him when she wants to go off to another war to write about it, but again, it is never really explained why she is so drawn to telling war stories.
This totally misrepresents the kind of fiery journalism Gellhorn advocated. And although it is much talked about in the film that Hemingway is a brilliant writer, and that Martha Gellhorn was his muse for “For Whom the Bell Tolls” we never see what it is that really inspires him. Clive Owen’s Hemingway appears to be a fantastically popular loudmouthed drunkard for whom men and women feel an unreasonable adoration. Poor Molly Parker and Parker Posey are given little to do but gape at him adoringly.
Tony Shalhoub, David Straithairn and Robert Duvall don’t get much more to do, either. There is some muttering and plotting going on, but it is never made quite clear who is doing what, except it seems to inspire “Papa” to drink even more.
There are some fancy cinematographic effects in which Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen are digitally inserted into actual archival footage and there is a smattering of fade-in/fade-out effects of the contemporary footage to try to make it match archival footage. Rather than making it all feel more true-to-life, it is distracting and gimmicky, as are the wigs and makeup. Would it have been that difficult to lighten Nicole’s hair a little rather than slapping on the blonde wig? There are very few people who are as good looking as Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. That’s what Hollywood does. It hires impossibly beautiful people to play average-good-looking folks. It isn’t necessary to work so hard at making them look like the characters by using distractingly unfortunate hairpieces! We will suspend our disbelief. Well, we will if it’s well-written and well acted. Sadly, disbelief is about all I can feel that this film was ever made.
Jean Tait is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. Currently the Director of Programming for the Connecticut Film Festival, Jean has programmed for the Jacksonville Film Festival and Sundance Channel.
Other Reviews You May Like:
VEEP - DEMAND IT
Nurse Jakcie - Season 4 - DEMAND IT
Girls - DEMAND IT
Game Of Thrones - DEMAND IT
INSIDE COMEDY (Showtime) - DEMAND IT
SMASH - TRY IT